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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

1617 'Che le cose erano concertate che S


[395] Somerset intimated that he possessed secrets the disclosure of which would compromise the King: and there is nothing, however conjectural or infamous, which has not seemed to some among posterity to be probable on this ground. James I says, 'God knows it is only a trick of his idle brain, hoping thereby to shift his trial. I cannot hear a private message from him without laying an aspersion upon myself of being an accessory to his crime.' (Halliwell ii. 138.)

[396] Girolamo Lando, Relatione 1622, praises him for 'apparenza di modestia, benignita e cortesia,--bellezza, gratia, leggiadria del corpo, a tutti gli esercitii mirabilmente disposto.'

[397] 'Che le lettere Piu importanti del re sono passate in mano di Spagna.' Ant. Foscarini, Nov. 13, 1615. There is a letter of James I of October 20 which likewise supposes acts of treachery of this kind. What is true in this supposition we now learn from Digby's letter, in Gardiner, App. iii. 2.

[398] 'To the south parts of America or elsewhere within America possessed and inhabited by heathen and savage people.' So run the words of the commission: it is therein said expressly 'Sir Walter Ralegh being under the peril of the law.'

[399] Dispaccio Veneto Feb. 10, 1617: 'Che le cose erano concertate che S. M. cattolica non avrebbe occasione di riceverne disgusto--che era fermamente del re, che il Rale andasse al suo viaggio, nel quale se avesse contravenuto alle suoi instruttioni--haveva la testa con che pagherebbe la disubbidienza.'

CHAPTER II.

COMPLICATIONS ARISING OUT OF THE AFFAIRS OF THE PALATINATE.

During these years there had been persons at the helm of state in most countries, who either from natural disposition or from a calculation of present circumstances had cherished peaceful views. In spite of all the activity of Spanish policy, Philip III and his minister Lerma clung to the principle that the rest needed to restore the strength of the exhausted monarchy must be granted to it. The Emperor Matthias owed the crown he wore to his alliance with the Protestants: his first minister Klesel, although a cardinal, was a lukewarm Catholic, and a man of conciliatory views in general. The Regent of France, Mary de' Medici, had surrendered the warlike designs of her husband when she entered on the exercise of sovereign power. Christian IV of Denmark held similar views. He declined the proposals of the Poles, which were aimed at a renewal of the war against Sweden: he preferred, with the approval of his council of state, to proceed with the building of towns and harbours in which he was engaged.

Hence it was possible on the whole to carry out a policy such as that maintained by James I. It corresponded to the tone prevalent among the other powers.

[Sidenote: A.D. 1617.]

From time to time it seemed probable that the opposing forces which were contending with one another in the depths of European life, would burst forth and shatter the peaceful state of affairs. For the advancing revival of Catholicism roused the hostile feelings of Protestants, while the union of the German and the independent feeling of the Italian princes resisted the extension of the alliances of Spain. In the year 1615, on the Netherland frontier, and in the year 1616 on the boundaries between Austria and Venice, warlike movements began which threatened to prove the commencement of a general struggle: but these were disputes of an essentially local nature, and peaceful dispositions still maintained the upper hand.


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